It is easy to forget that many of the freedoms we take for granted were hard won and are easily lost. The Left can be proud of its association internationally with the challenge to gender inequality. For the anti-imperialist Left, however, the willingness of the Right to use gender inequality as a stick with which to beat Muslim groups has caused something of a quandry. Some, but by no means all, have been driven to defend inequality on grounds of culture. That it is happening at all on the Left is to be deprecated. Neither gender is worth less than the other. No-one should be treated less favourably because of their gender. If cultural practices of any age and built on any foundation provide to the contrary then those practices should be challenged.
Two stories in today’s Guardian highlight that in times of political strife it is women’s rights that seem to be at the front of the queue to be thrown under the bus. In Egypt it seems that female protesters arrested by the Army were subjected to compulsory virginity tests. In Israel, Shimon Peres has spoken out against Haredi men who have been spitting on schoolgirls and calling them “whores” and “Nazis”.